Chef Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon - Biography

Portland, OR

November 2011

You might not picture the king of haute comfort, 2011 Portland Rising Star Gabriel Rucker, as a dropout. But that’s exactly how he began—by dropping out of the Santa Rosa Jr. College’s culinary program when he was 18. Good thing he did; the decision gave him the freedom to find restaurant jobs in his Napa Valley hometown and begin to develop a culinary style of sophisticated, technique-driven comfort food. In 2003, Rucker moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked at Portland icon Vitaly Paley’s Paley’s Place for two years. Rucker was then hired as the sous chef at The Gotham Building Tavern, where he connected with Bunk Bar Chef Tommy Habetz and his future Sous Chef Erik Van Kley.

Rucker and business partner Paul Bradyegan began working on their own intimate restaurant, Le Pigeon, back in 2006. And nowadays, this is where you’ll find Rucker, practicing his foie gras worship and celebration of decadent, upscale bistro-style dishes, like his incredible foie gras profiteroles. Since the restaurant’s opening, Rucker has received a slew of accolades. He was  named Portland Monthly’s Chef of the Year 2006, The Oregonian’s Rising Star 2006, and Restaurant and Hospitality Magazine’s Rising Star of 2007. Food and Wine named him among the Best New Chefs of 2007. More importantly, his business was so successful that in December 2010, Rucker expanded his culinary vision, opening his second restaurant, Little Bird. With more seats than Le Pigeon, Little Bird makes Rucker’s patented style comfort food accessible to even more people.